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Japanese lesbian couple marrying in 26 countries

Lesbian couple to marry 26 times abroad to call for equality in Japan

Misato Kawasaki and Mayu Otaki will embark on the six-month wedding tour in March

A same-sex couple from Japan are planning to get married abroad 26 times, in a bid to call for change in their home country where it’s illegal for them to wed.

Misato Kawasaki and Mayu Otaki will journey across 26 countries and regions where it is legal for same-sex couples to marry – the tour will take them around six months.

The 21 and 22-year-old are both students at Utsunomiya University, where they first met. According to their joint crowdfunder page, they have been dating since 2017. Kawasaki details on the page that she refrained from dating girls in high school because she thought it was “abnormal”, but came out in university, while Otaki first came to terms with her sexuality in school and came out as pansexual later.

Kawasaki told local publication The Asahi Shimbun: “I want to show through our wedding photos that being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) is normal so that those who are troubled by their sexual status can harbour hope.”

While some local governments in Japan certify same-sex couples marriages, it is not legal recognised country-wide. From 2019 onwards, 10 cities and city wards have legalised same-sex partnerships in Japan, which allows couples some of the benefits of marriage. Couples also have household registration, which allows for some next-of-kin legal rights that heterosexual couples enjoy. Shibuya, a central Tokyo ward, began allowing same-sex couples to obtain special partnership certificates from 2015 – though not officially recognised as marriage certificates, they give couples some civil rights like visiting one another in the hospital. 

The couple’s plan, which they’ve named the ‘26-time marriage plan’, will see them tour Europe, Africa, North America and South America from March to September. On their journey, the couple plan to interview other Japanese and non-Japanese LGBT couples, as well as government officials in places where marriage equality is in place. Their goal is to define what prejudices there are in these places, and reflect on Japan’s own.

Kawasaki and Otaki are planning to take leave from their studies, and will start their trip in the UK. When they return, the couple will report their findings in an open local meeting, and officially set up their own company which will offer wedding services to LGBT people.

They have set up a crowdfunding campaign to cover the expenses of their trip and plan. They estimate that it will cost around 2.07 million yen (roughly £14,498.20) per person. So far, the couple has raised over a third of their goal. You can donate to their crowdfunding campaign and follow their journey here.